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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

February 2021 Newsletter

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workforce Project

Elderberry Wisdom Farm has created an experiential workforce learning model for Native American students and other students of color who are interested in horticultural or agricultural career pathways. The US Department of Agriculture has funded our Native American organization to accomplish the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Workforce Project in a five-year partnership with Chemeketa Community College, Salem, Oregon.

Elderberry Wisdom Farm’s board and staff will integrate decades of past experience to evolve our experiential learning model into this new workforce initiative. To strengthen student success, we are evolving our experiential learning model so it is increasingly compatible with Native learning styles. It is designed to strengthen educational engagement and academic achievement which leads to meaningful career success and prosperity for Native families.

The internship will assist Native American adults and other students of color who are exploring indigenous perspectives so they can pursue meaningful environmental assessment, habitat restoration, organic farming and other conservation careers, including microenterprise development. Our career pathway planning toolkit will include culturally-tailored TEK curriculum, plus workforce readiness, leadership development and health and wellness resiliency.

The 128-hour internship will be taught at the two-acre Blue Elderberry Farm located south of Salem. The farm includes a classroom, large greenhouse which is being turned into a Native plant nursery, and a one-acre Native elderberry patch.

Chemeketa Community College will enroll students for this Fall term team class, starting in September 2021. Students will receive paid internships to participate in the program. In year one, eight Native American students will work as a cohort together to accomplish their projects. In years two through five, the cohort will serve as peer role models to successive cohorts of color who participate.

Elderberry Wisdom Farm has a position opening

Elderberry Wisdom Farm is currently recruiting candidates for a part-time position of Educator and Crew Leader. We are welcoming qualified individuals to submit your resume and cover letter if you are interested in the position of Educator Crew Leader. The position is based in Salem and serves Marion and Polk Counties. The position description is located at our website at If you are interested in applying, or have questions, feel free to submit a resume and cover letter to

Volunteer Activities Are Continuing through February

I had fun today!!! Wisdom of the Elderberry Farm is honored with the support of a number of generous volunteers this month who are helping us pot 19 Native plant species. Due to the unprecedented winter storm that hit the Northwest, our plant starts didn’t arrive from our supplier as planned, but that didn’t stop us.

I worked with our volunteers, Sara DeHoff and Chase Huntley, who supported our event on Friday afternoon 2/19. We had a cup of tea and held a circle of introductions. Then we made labels for the plants and filled 200 nursery pots with potting soil and labels.

A second volunteer activity on Sunday afternoon, 2/21 will be supported by 4-5 volunteers who will help us fill 300 more pots with potting soil and labels.

We are currently recruiting additional volunteers to help us on the weekend of February 27 and 28. We will pot the last of the pots and label them. Hopefully the plants will have arrived and we can pot the plants. You can sign up here.

Eulogy of Woody Morrison

We have helped to record more than 450 Native elders over 28 years between 1990 and 2018, and we are continuing that tradition. It seemed like an accomplishment, but it never felt like it was enough, especially as we journey through this pandemic. Native elders with wisdom and knowledge so essential to our future are traveling home to the Spirit World before their time.

Our most recent loss was Haida story keeper, environmental attorney and most recently, spiritual advisor to Native men and boys in his urban community of Vancouver, BC, Woodrow Morrison Jr. He was hospitalized January 1 right after his 79th birthday celebration with pneumonia and COVID-19.

He gladdened the hearts of hundreds later in January when his respirator was removed due to his slow improvements. Over 600 loved ones were praying and singing for his recovery. Woody progressed in the hospital despite dual diagnoses of pneumonia and COVID-19 and his respirator was removed after 10 days. Then a few days later his oxygen levels began to drop and his lungs wore out. He peacefully passed into the Spirit World last week.

I have known him since 2004 when I traveled to the California Indian Storytellers Association for their annual tribal storytelling festival. He was a guest presenter at the festival, telling a stunning traditional journey story of his people from thousands of years ago who traveled by canoe from their homeland in Hydaberg, Alaska using navigation by the stars. Woody documented how these Star Nation astronomers traveled down the Pacific coast to California where they encountered the Chumash people. They journeyed on to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia and then returned home safely under the protection of Great Spirit and the guidance of their own innate knowledge of the stars. The Haida are one example among hundreds of how Native American, Alaskan Native and other indigenous peoples over thousands of years have represented true science as they maintained pristine sacred landscapes.

Woody shared his story with our film teams. His film clips are included in Discovering Our Story health and wellness curriculum. He also served on the board of Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. and Elderberry Wisdom Farm and provided advice and support to our cultural preservation and multimedia educational efforts.

It has taken me days to offer this eulogy. It is sometimes too painful to face loss as we witness him and so many others go home before their time. However, as a people of resiliency, we know it is important to think of these moments with tearful joy remembering the many accomplishments he achieved in his lifetime, how many people he assisted as a living encyclopedia of Haida history and culture.

Native Americans know our cultural heritage and our perspectives on preserving our sacred landscapes, as threatened and endangered as they are today, will be preserved and prevail and be passed on to a succession of our descendants. Great Spirit has assured us of our sustainability. At the same time, we grieve too many losses of those who hold the truths and generations of knowledge.

Thank you all for your continued prayers for our Native elders, our living museums, our story keepers who lived as selfless servants and exemplary grandparents. As someone wrote in their eulogy to Woody, “May the stars carry your sadness away. May the flowers fill your heart with beauty. May hope forever wipe away your tears. Above all, may silence make you strong.”

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